More fun and hilarity is to be had in this second instalment of the Help! series featuring Daniel and friends written by Jo Franklin. After the success of Help! I’m an Alien and like all true aliens, Jo is well on the way to achieving her dream of world domination!
Help! I’m a Genius by Jo Franklin with illustrations by Aaron Blecha
Daniel Kendal has the smallest brain in his family and the smallest brain in the world. He knows absolutely nothing about anything. Everyone is shocked when he is mistaken for a genius and selected to compete in the National Brainiac Championships. What can a pea-brain like Daniel do to avoid making a fool of himself? And will his friends Freddo and Gordon the Geek help him?
Daniel thinks he has no chance when by a strange twist of fate he ends up representing his school in the National Brainiac Championships, an inter-schools contest. After all, he’s nothing like his super-clever parents or his best friend Gordon the Geek. And it’s Gordon and his other best friend Freddo who he turns to for help with hilarious results. From a disgusting diet regime (radioactive pond weed anyone?) to a skull-stretching device (to make room for a bigger brain of course…) the three friends try everything to fill Daniel’s brain with facts, to no avail. Coupled with the news that his family might be moving to America, Daniel’s headaches go from bad to worse! As the date of the competition draws near, Daniel realises he’s just going to have to make a big fool of himself in front of everyone – or rely on his friends to help him cheat!
Laugh-out-loud moments and humiliation abound as Daniel tries to find a way to ‘win’ the competition. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the quirky cast of characters again – even Freddo with his interesting bodily functions! We see more of Daniel’s family who still drive him mad –and the daily dilemmas he faces feeling like the odd-one-out in his family – something all readers can relate to. There’s even some Dad-dancing brilliantly brought to life by Aaron Blecha’s illustrations which complement the story throughout. It’s not all slapstick though, with the more ‘serious’ thread of the possible relocation of the family to America due to Daniel’s Dad’s new job. This adds greater pressure to Daniel, as his sister Jess is convinced if he wins the competition they’ll be able to stay in England. The tension mounts and Daniel’s self-awareness may just be the biggest barrier to realising he’s not as dumb as he thinks he is! Help! I’m A Genius is a very funny read and Daniel learns another valuable lesson this time about believing in yourself, even when you don’t feel good enough. I’m looking forward to the next instalment!